Cloaq

App review by
Lisa Caplan, Common Sense Media
Cloaq App Poster Image
Anonymous posting poses potential danger; tamer than some.

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Ease of Play

Navigation and use are intuitive.

Violence

No violent images or language seen during review process, except in context of recent news events, but users can post content without moderation.

Sex

No sexual images or language seen during review process, and pornographic material prohibited by terms of use, but users could potentially post explicit content.

Language

Some use of expletives, but it's minimal. Generally the tone is friendly, with users reporting that "trolls" (those who use social media anonymously to bully, harass, or intentionally offend) are almost absent.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

No content seen during review, but users can ask questions, discuss topics, or post pictures tied to drinking, drugs, and smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Cloaq is a social network that allows users to create anonymous profiles and post text and images. You do not need to enter any personal information to create an account. Instead, you simply enter a password, and the app generates a username. Without email verification, developers can't contact users to address concerns, and it's not clear how much user information the developers can collect based on device information. Separate from the regular feed is SparQ, which creates private feeds based on email addresses, but posts will still be anonymous, and SparQ email addresses aren't linked to the main feed. There are some posts with references to sex and some swearing, such as "s--t." Also, a concerning post asking "Should I kill myself today?" was met with compassion but would still give parents pause. Though the review period didn't reveal a large amount of iffy content, the anonymity and lack of moderation can lead to questionable posts.

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What's it about?

After entering a password and receiving an anonymous username, you can begin posting text and pictures, following other users, and commenting on news items from sources such as Mashable, Gizmodo, and BuzzFeed. You can comment on others' posts and give them an up or down vote. Using the @xyz.com of a person's email address, SparQ groups people into separate, private areas of Cloaq where people from the same organization can post anonymously with each other: They will provide an email address, but it won't be linked to any posts or their main Cloaq feed.

Is it any good?

CLOAQ works as advertised: Creating an ID is simple, the instructions are easy to follow, and, once you have a username, Cloaq mimics other social sites enough so kids will instantly know where to find what they're looking for. It's fairly basic, in terms of available features. As a platform it works fine, and similar to Blink! - Secret Messaging and Whisper - Share, Express, Meet, the clear intention is to allow people to say whatever they want. Unlike some other platforms, however, the community culture is largely tame and mostly positive. Regular users report that rather than being a haven for "trolls" and other people who use social media to be disruptive or hurtful, Cloaq members are open and nonthreatening. However, concerns lie in potential abuses, as anonymity often leads to negative behaviors.

One other consideration is that a user doesn't know what data is being collected behind the scenes, and the privacy policy doesn't specify. Certainly user IP addresses are visible to developers and subject to misuse both by the company and hackers.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about safe social-networking practices. What photos are appropriate to share? What information should never be shared with strangers?

  • Discuss cyberbullying and anonymity. Sometimes feeling hidden and anonymous makes people behave differently than they would face to face. Also, parents should remind kids to report any incident of being cyberbullied to a parent or teacher.

  • Talk about how important it is not to meet up with strangers even if they seem like they're other kids online. For example, parents should be sure to warn kids not to meet with anyone from a site like Cloaq just because they claim to be the same age or gender. It's important to make sure kids know that the more anonymous the social network, the more dangerous meeting in person can be.

App details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love safe chatting and social networking

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